For Immediate Release
December 15, 2015
Ruthie Arroyo, Chair, Anakbayan New Jersey
Joelle Eliza Lingat, Secretary General, Anakbayan New Jersey
Gian-Carlo Toriano Parel, Anakbayan New Jersey
(470) 309-2265, firstname.lastname@example.org
One Year of the Golden Fortune Workers Picket Line: End Contractualization of Workers! No to Noy Noy’s “Daang Matuwid”
Anakbayan New Jersey sends its warmest congratulations and solidarity to the Golden Fortune Workers who on this day, December 15th mark the one year anniversary of their picket protest in Binondo, Manila against Golden Fortune Techno Built Inc, a construction firm owned by businessman Dominador Yap. For the past year they have faced threats and hardship, but have never faltered because their will to attain justice is stronger than any challenges they are faced with. Victory is certain to be achieved when the strength of the workers leads the way!
On December 2014, the Golden Fortune management illegally terminated 98 workers in a scheme to quash then forming workers union, Samahan ng mga Manggagawa sa Golden Fortune Construction-National Federation of Workers Union-KMU. The majority of the terminated workers had been working for the firm for at least 4 years, while some had been with Golden Fortune since 1976.
The construction firm has been violating workers rights to living wage, benefits, and stable employment. Under the Labor Code issued by the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE), workers are candidates for regularization 6 months after their employment. Despite being involved in projects for more than 6 months, the majority of the Golden Fortune construction workers who were terminated were considered contractual workers hired on a per project basis. In 2014, the minimum wage for Metro Manila was set to PHP466 per day, but the workers were only compensated PHP451 per day. Daily wages for Golden Fortune construction workers, however, were always below what the current mandated minimum wage was in Metro Manila. Social Security, PhilHealth benefits, and taxes were regularly deducted from their salaries; however, workers reported discrepancies in their contributions. The workers decided to form a union after years of exploitation. Shortly after they began the process of union registration with DOLE, the Golden Fortune management started firing them in batches.
The 98 workers filed several group cases of illegal dismissal against Dominador Yap and the Golden Fortune construction firm. According to the Labor Code, “an employee who is unjustly dismissed from work shall be entitled to reinstatement without loss of seniority rights and other privileges and to his full backwages, inclusive of allowances, and to his other benefits or their monetary equivalent computed from the time his compensation was withheld from him up to the time of his actual reinstatement.” The court of appeals ruled in favor of the first batch of workers who filed a case, but they have yet to receive full compensation. The other three batches of group cases are still in the middle of legal processes in the court of appeals.
To this day, Dominador Yap is still in business as a subcontractor and is operating under a new company name.
As members of the youth and student sector, it is our duty to support the resilience of the working class. One task that the Golden Fortune construction workers themselves have encourage ABNJ members and other youth to support them is to share the workers’ stories, to tell their truths in face-to-face conversations with people, in news sources, and through social media. The Golden Fortune workers are not alone in their struggle: workers face exploitation and consequently resist to fight for better wages and working conditions, not only in the Philippines such as the Pentagon steel workers but also in all places where capitalism dominates.
We must remain vigilant of bureaucrat capitalism and challenge the feudal relationships of the Philippine government to both foreign monopoly capitalists and local capitalists who have the means to buy and exploit labor power. Ibon International reports an underemployment rate of 18.4% and an unemployment rate of 10.2%, the worst in Asia. With an economy that is setup to benefit the few rather than to provide for the millions of peasant farmers, fisherfolk, workers, professionals and small businesses, it is no surprise that the concrete conditions for the workers continue to worsen. The Liberal Party’s Daang Matuwid’s reliance on foreign investors to boost the Philippine’s economic growth and development completely discounts two factors that will address the landlessness and the joblessness of the Filipino people: genuine agrarian reform and national industrialization.
We recognize that as revolutionary Filipino youth, the only way to advance the national democratic movement with a socialist perspective is to arouse, organize, and mobilize the broadest masses especially the workers and peasant farmers, the most oppressed sectors in Philippine society. As Filipino youth, we must choose to side with the working class — the leaders of the national democratic movement.
This past December, two ABNJ members integrated with the Golden Fortune workers by joining them in educational discussions, noise barrages and mobilizations, and cultural sharing. A year later, another ABNJ member was also able to experience the hospitality and militant spirit of the Golden Fortune workers on an exposure trip just a few weeks ago. As a comprehensive national democratic mass organization, ABNJ looks forward to continue to deepen our relationship with the Golden Fortune workers until victory is won! We encourage all youth and students — especially young Filipino Americans — to return home and integrate with the masses of Philippine society to understand the true conditions of the Filipino people, especially that of the Golden Fortune Workers. To another year of serving the people and arduously waging struggle, isulong Golden Fortune workers!
SAHOD, TRABAHO, AT KARAPATAN, IPAGLABAN!
FIGHT FOR GENUINE AGRARIAN REFORM AND NATIONAL INDUSTRIALIZATION!
WORKERS OF THE WORLD UNITE!